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Dublin: 11°C Saturday 17 April 2021
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Good evening and welcome along to the fourth installment of this weekend’s Ireland-France rugby rivalry. 

Kick-off in Thomond is not until 17.30, so for the moment our attention will remain on Leinster’s sleeves-up, no messin’ match against Lyon – which you can follow live here.

Right, that’s enough of the distraction from Lyon – not that there was much to draw the eye beyond Leinster’s defence in the 6-13 win. All our focus is now on Thomond Park and the pre-match team news could provide a boost for the hosts.

Teddy Iribaren has been promoted to the Racing starting side as Maxime Machenaud has pulled out with a tight calf. Antoine Gibert comes in among the replacements. 

Munster:

15. Mike Haley
14. Andrew Conway
13. Chris Farrell
12. Rory Scannell
11. Keith Earls
10. JJ Hanrahan
9. Conor Murray

1. Jeremy Loughman
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Jean Kleyn
5. Tadhg Beirne
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Jack O’Donoghue
8. CJ Stander

Replacements:

16. Kevin O’Byrne
17. James Cronin
18. Stephen Archer
19. Billy Holland
20. Fineen Wycherley
21. Alby Mathewson
22. Dan Goggin
23. Arno Botha

Racing 92:

15. Simon Zebo
14. Teddy Thomas
13. Virimi Vakatawa
12. Henry Chavancy (captain)
11. Juan Imhoff
10. Finn Russell
9. Teddy Iribaren

1. Eddy Ben Arous
2. Camille Chat
3. Cedate Gomes Sa
4. Donnacha Ryan
5. Dominic Bird
6. Wenceslas Lauret
7. Boris Palu
8. Antoine Claassen

Replacements:

16. Teddy Baubigny
17. Hassane Kolingar
18. Ali Oz
19. Fabien Sanconnie
20. Yoan Tanga Mangene
21. Antoine Gibert
22. Ben Volavola
23. Brice Dulin 

Referee: Matthew Carley [England].

The teams are out, the flashes light up and all seem trained on Simon Zebo. Donnacha Ryan is kissing children on the sideline and instantly flicks back into kill mode for kick-off.

3Mins

It’s a good fiery start to this one. JJ Hanrahan begun with a statement hit on Zebo. Racing won’t shrink away though, forcing a big turnover out of Keith Earls.

5Mins

Racing force the ball to get so slow that Conor Murray rotates around while asking Matt Carley at least twice for a penalty.

Eventually his eyes go back to the ball and plays on. The kick goes up, Zebo marks.

8Mins

This time Murray gets his wish. Munster’s attack is nice and zippy off a scrum with Mike Haley jinking his way through bodies. But as soon as Racing get them to ground they clamp all over the pill and this time are punished.

10Mins

The red wave comes again. The hosts attack from deep and tempt a shooter out of the line. Chris Farrell takes full advantage of the hole and advances 40 metres upfield.

Racing turn it over though and force Munster to start again. Keith Earls comes close to breaking free but it’s a knock on to end a seriously frenetic passage of play.

This is already five times better than the Leinster-Lyon game.

14Mins

Haley is looking very lively out there for the hosts. Donnacha Ryan gets two big hands on him and rag-dolls him around. Munster kick ahead and Zebo mis-controls the bouncing ball to the delight of his former fans.

18Mins

Mike Haley is a man possessed. Sensational balance with ball in hand to consistently slither beyond tacklers’ grasps.

Unfortunately, Munster again struggle to really build on the chance and Racing turn them around. From the line-out, Niall Scannell throws a bullet of a short throw low to the front of the line-out and it’s a knock on. 

Flag 18Mins

There was a penalty advantage on the play as Racing attacked and the Racing 10 shaped to chip ahead, but it was in fact an audacious nutmeg through Rory Scannell’s legs.

The Scot regathered and dived over the line.

That was utterly sublime.

There’s a scuffle between the piano movers after the player does his bit. Teddy Iribaren adds the conversion.

Munster 3 Racing 7

26Mins

A forward pass from Zebo to Thomas pins Racing into their own half behind a scrum, and the red pack turn the screw to give Hanrahan a chance to narrow the deficit.

30Mins

That is another bloody brilliant try from the visitors. They force a midfield turnover out of Scannell and move through three phases before Iribaren and then Zebo flash lovely flat passes to the right. Teddy Thomas clicks his heels and hits the gas before chipping ahead and regathering to canter in under the posts.

Munster 6 Racing 14

34Mins

While you pick the jaw back off the floor watching that opening try, Munster are pushing for a conventional one at the other end.

Hanrahan looks to have jinked over. Stand by.

35Mins

The TMO has a look at Hanrahan’s grounding and a high tackle on Chris Farrell. The latter was left as a no call, the centre dipped. The former is a knock on as Zebo got his hand in to wedge the ball out of JJ’s grasp just as he was flopping down to the try-line.

37Mins

Carley calls a penalty against Loughman on the scrum in front of Racing’s posts and Russell booms out a relieving kick.

40Mins

A brilliant Munster try rounds off a fantastic first half of rugby at Thomond Park.

The Limerick man catches Zebo a touch flat-footed as he takes on a pass from Haley and he zips through the smallest of gaps before diving to the line.

Hanrahan’s touchline conversion is off target, so Munster will turn around with a three-point deficit to overturn.

HALF-TIME: Munster 11 Racing 14

41Mins

The second half is off and running in Limerick.

46Mins

Great to see Munster want to play at tempo. Zebo’s kick to touch is taken by Earls and he doesn’t wait on the forward packs to gather for a line-out. 

It doesn’t quite turn out to be a counter as a kick tennis return, but the intention is good.

And from the next line-out platform Munster do search wide for Haley and Conway after a tidy wrap-around and Beirne makes a carry that yields a straight penalty shot for JJ.

48Mins

PENALTY! Munster 14 Racing 14 (Hanrahan ’47)

49Mins

Outrageous. 

Russell throws a dummy and ghosts between Loughman and O’Mahony. He’s devastating in open field and he makes no mistake once through the gap, slipping a pass left for Imhoff to take at full tilt on his way under the posts.

55Mins

Tadhg Beirne comes up with what feels like a vital turnover as Munster defend their 22. They flick it wide and Haley eyes a gap. But he’s just far too over-eager to make a yard that isn’t there for the taking. The fullback is tackled and gets up to try and make extra ground.

A horrible penalty for coaches to see unfold and Teddy Iribaren… oh, he does not punish Haley for the error.

The scrum-half misses left and we’re still on a one-point game.

Johann van Graan has a 6-2 split on the bench and he has reached into that depth now for a boost as we approach the last 25 minutes.

59Mins

Thomas and Iribaren threaten to carve Munster open again. The winger’s pass back inside appears forward, but it comes to nought anyway as, after a return pass, Thomas’ kick is out of reach for his team-mates.

62Mins

Billy Holland is a familiar figure on the touchline and emerging behind him, for his final appearance in Thomond as a Munster player, Alby Mathewson.

The scrum-half gets a rousing cheer as he comes in to replace Conor Murray. 

67Mins

There’s a vital penalty win off a line-out by Munster on their own 10 metre line. They badly needed a relieving kick out of their territory and Rory Scannell kicks his side up to the Racing 22.

68Mins

The red shirts crank through eight or nine phases, then suddenly inject pace as they flow back to the right wing. Scannell’s big skip pass off his left invites Conway onto the attack, but he’s nicely shepherded by Imhoff.

69Mins

Alby Mathewson punches way way way above his weight to cement Antonie Claasen as he peels off the back of a five metre scrum.

The back row hits the deck, but manages to recycle. The clearing kick will offer Munster another big chance to level this tie up.

70Mins

The penalty comes for not rolling away. Munster shun the easy three-pointer and take aim for the corner.

72Mins

Fineen Wycherley comes flying in as Munster attempt a rapier-like line-out attack. Donnacha Ryan is there waiting to thwart him. The pressure keeps coming and Munster are within inches. 

But no, the frustration goes on growing for the home faithful as James Cronin – last week’s late try-scoring hero – knocks on.

76Mins

The big beasts lay siege at the line once more, but this time Munster look to their backs to finish the job. Hanrahan flings a beaut of a skip pass wide right to Conway.

And the 10 follows it up by booting an absolutely gorgeous touchline conversion to level this match.

Munster 21 Racing 21

Four minutes to go.

78Mins

And Munster, having trailed and been carved open through much of this game, are back in the Racing 22 and in search of a score – any score – to give them the win.

12 phases in and they’re six metres out. JJ is sitting back deep. A drop goal from here is only 20 metres out.

79Mins

Mathewson flashes it back to the Kerryman… oh, dear! He has hooked it wide left of the uprights.

We remain deadlocked. 

81Mins

JJ runs it back and Munster go in search again. But there’s a penalty from Carley and it goes the way of the visitors.

Russell boots the ball deep in Munster’s half and now it’s Racing who can snatch a win with the clock red.

Flag

And they fluff their lines too with a knock on at the line-out.

It’s a first European draw on home turf for Munster.

FULL-TIME: Munster 21 Racing 21

Well that’s it from me, folks. 

Ireland’s provinces have finished their French exams for this weekend and the results are 2-1-1.

The Pro14 signals a sharp shift down in gear for rugby next week, but the European action will be back on our screens in a fortnight as the December back-to-backs put a shape on the pools.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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